By: Maria Varon, WORLDiscoveries
Every year on March 8, people worldwide celebrate International Women’s Day. This global day recognizes and celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. This year, as we #EmbraceEquity, WE-Empower! (a program for people who self-identify as women from faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students at Western University), is excited to celebrate Dr. Jayshri Sabarinathan. Dr. Sabarinathan is a WE-Empower! participant and who recently submitted a Report on Invention (ROI) to Western University’s Tech Transfer Office, WORLDiscoveries.
Dr. Sabarinathan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was previously the Associate Director of Training (2019-2022) at Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. She obtained her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research expertise is in developing novel nano-photonic sensors, integrated photonics, and miniature remote sensing instrumentation.
From the World to Beyond:
Dr. Sabarinathan has worked in multi-spectral imaging for remote sensing applications for the last seven years. Inspired to build a customized multi-spectral camera for agriculture monitoring, she and her team developed custom multi-spectral imager instrumentation for unmanned aerial vehicle-based and mobile robot-based remote sensing. This has applications in precision agriculture and geological classification. This work led her to The Canada Space Agency, where Dr. Sabarinathan became involved with the Integrated Visions System Project led by Dr. Osinski (the PI and Science Lead at Western University). Dr. Sabarinathan and her team have demonstrated a compact dual-sensor multi-spectral imager for a lunar rover application capable of characterizing the lunar surface geology.
“What’s exciting about this multi-spectral imager is that we use a dual sensor with an extended spectral range from the visible and near-infrared to the short-wave infrared, thus allowing us to recognize more lunar mineral signatures,” explains Dr. Sabarinathan. “We also realized that this instrument can be used in many applications. This led us to apply for an ROI with WORLDiscoveries. We hope to commercialize and potentially use it for other applications such as mining and air quality monitoring.”
Dr. Sabarinathan is a current participant in an inaugural program led by WORLDiscoveries. It creates opportunities for women to turn their innovations into business opportunities. Funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund, the WE-Empower! The program provides year-round mentorship for principal investigators, faculty, postdoctoral trainees, and graduate students who self-identify as women. The program works to support and train these researchers on the technology transfer process, research commercialization options, intellectual property (IP), and entrepreneurship. “The WE-Empower program educates women faculty on navigating the commercialization process while introducing them to available resources and networks at WORLDiscoveries and within the region.”
Dr. Sabarinathan is also a co-founder of LightSail, a start-up which develops integrated photonic solutions for the aerospace industry sector. “Being part of this start-up also led me to join the WE-Empower! program as it provides resources on how to take research to commercialization and learn the right way to do it,” she says.
Today, Dr. Sabarinathan is pioneering innovative ways to lead impactful research to publications and guiding her students with the skills to be successful in the space industry. “This industry is growing in Canada and worldwide,” Dr. Sabarinathan explains. “We want to see our research impact people and be used by other researchers.” When talking about her inspirations, Dr. Sabarinathan describes her drive as having a dream and staying focused on that dream. “It’s important (…) not to let challenges stop you from achieving your dream. Some of the best advice I have received is: It might take someone a certain amount of time to achieve a goal, and it might take someone else a shorter amount of time. It does not matter either way as long as the goal is achieved”